The Baylor Bears (6-6) meet the Vanderbilt Commodores (6-6) in the 2018 Texas Bowl from Houston. Kickoff is set for 9:00 PM EST on Thursday, December 27th at NRG Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.

Taking a look at the full list of college bowl betting odds, Baylor opened as a 4.5-point favorite earlier this week. That line has remained the same after early betting, as the Bears are currently listed at -4.5. The total for the game is sitting at 55 points.

Texas Bowl Vegas Odds Preview: Vanderbilt vs Baylor

Baylor must be thrilled to be back in a bowl game after coming off of a dreadful one-win season in 2017-18. The Bears had a 5-6 record heading into a late November showdown with Texas Tech, needing a win in their final game to become bowl eligible. Thankfully, they managed to pull off an impressive 35-24 victory to lock up a spot in this years Texas Bowl. Baylor will be without star WR Jalen Hurd, who played injured against the Red Raiders to help push his team to a .500 season. Hurd was magnificent all year long, racking up 69 catches for 946 yards and four touchdowns. Junior Denzel Mims will try and help replace the void left by Hurd, as he also had a solid 2018-19 campaign, recording a team-high eight touchdowns on 699 receiving yards. QB Charlie Brewer will also play a huge role offensively against Vanderbilt, as the sophomore threw for 2,635 yards and 17 touchdowns while also adding six rushing touchdowns in 12 starts. As a whole, the offense averaged 28.3 points per game (70th overall) during the regular season.

The Bears were also below average on the other side of the ball this year, allowing opponents to score 31.2 points per game (87th overall). They were equally poor against both the run and the pass, ranking 80th overall in both categories respectively.

Vanderbilt won their final two games of the regular season to become bowl eligible after a 4-6 start. The Commodores reeled off impressive performances against Ole Miss and Tennessee in back to back “must win” situations, including a thrilling overtime victory over the Rebels. RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn played extremely well all year, rushing for 1,001 yards and 10 touchdowns on 144 carries. He also led the entire SEC in yards-per-attempt, averaging 6.95 yards per carry – including a conference best seven runs for 40+ yards. He should put up another big performance here in the Texas Bowl, as Baylor struggled to stop the run all season long. QB Kyle Shurmur also had a standout season, passing for 2,844 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was incredible over the final four weeks of the season, racking up 999 yards and 11 touchdowns. Overall, Vanderbilt averaged 27.7 points per game (74th overall).

The Commodores were fairly solid on defense for much of the season, limiting opponents to an average of 25.1 points per game (48th overall). However, they were below average against the pass, giving up 232.6 yards per game through the air (70th overall).

2018 Texas Bowl Free Betting Pick & Predictions: Vanderbilt +4.5

I think that Vanderbilt offers a ton of value in this particular spot, as I’m always going to take the free points when the underdog has been the more consistent team on both sides of the ball over a fairly decent sample size. The Commodores also match up quite well against Baylor, as they have had a ton of success moving the ball on the ground this year.

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The Bears are just 0-5-1 ATS over their last six non-conference games. They are also just 4-11-1 ATS following their last 16 games following a win. Vanderbilt is a rock-solid 5-1 ATS in their last six non-conference games. They are also 4-0 ATS over their last four games on turf and 5-0 ATS in their last five games overall.

It is also worth noting that the Commodores were the much better team against the spread during the regular season, going a very respectable 8-4 ATS in twelve games. Meanwhile, Baylor was only 5-6-1 ATS, including going just 2-4 straight up in six games played away from McLane Stadium. I fully expect those trends to continue this week in the 2018 version of the Texas Bowl, as Vanderbilt has a legitimate shot at winning this game straight up – the 4.5 points are a huge bonus. I’m going to roll with the underdog in this matchup for sure – give me the Commodores.